Two members of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy are calling on their fellow dental sleep specialists to ask their own Senators to support a bill that would bring regulatory certainty to the diagnosis and treatment of deadly obstructive sleep apnea among transportation workers. OSA has been a factor in several recent rail and bus and truck accidents.
However, the bill is stalled in a committee and needs help from constituents to move it forward before Congress adjourns in December. That’s why Drs. Elliott Alpher and Neal Seltzer are calling on their fellow ASBA members to take action by contacting their own Senators to ask that the bill passed out of committee. To streamline the process, please use the toolkit, which contains a sample phone script and letter to your senator. Here is a toolkit to make the outreach by phone or letter easier.
The toolkit consists of a phone script and a letter, which can be easily personalized. Members are asked to call during November to move the bill to action before the end of the year. It would be especially helpful to call Committee Members that have jurisdiction over the measure.
On October 26, 2017, Drs. Elliott Alpher and Neal Seltzer met with representatives of Senator Cory Booker (D- NJ), Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D- MI).
ASBA member Richard Klein worked behind the scenes to arrange the meeting with Stabenow who is a member of the influential budget and finance committees.
“We need to reach each member of the Senate,” Dr. Neal Seltzer said.” We have met with four so far. With the help of the membership, we can contact all the senators.”
During their Senate meetings, Drs. Alpher and Seltzer explained the need to have a dental sleep expert appointed to the Medical Review Board. This body sets health guidelines, including the diagnosis and treatment of OSA for transportation workers. Currently there are no sleep medical experts among the five members.
The staffers were especially interested in a letter Dr. Alpher received from the FMCSA in response to his letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. FMCSA Associate Administrator for Policy, Larry Minor, responded that the agency had decided the current methods of diagnosing and treating OSA among transportation workers are “adequate.”
Drs. Alpher and Seltzer also volunteered to provide medical and scientific expertise to the Senators as the legislation works its way through the process.
“In all three offices, we were well received,” said Dr. Alpher. “They were genuinely interested in willing to follow-through on our offers to help them gain some certainty for transportation workers.”
(Did you know that letter-writing is the most effective method, as it gets literally handed from the Senator's executive assistant to the proper staff person in the Senator's office).
The Honorable <Full Name>
United States Senate
Washington, DC <ZIP>
Dear Senator <NAME>:
My name is <Your Name> and I am one of your constituents and I live in <Your City>.
I am writing to ask for your support for the Senate Bill –– S.1883, to require the Department of Transportation to finish the rule for obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment among transportation workers.
The importance of safety for both the traveling public and the individual transportation workers cannot be overstated. It seems every day, there is a news report of another fatal accident caused by obstructive sleep apnea. But we need federal uniformity for both transportation workers and the traveling public. There’s a bill that’s languishing right now in committee and I ask you to support its passage. S-1883 will compel the Department of Transportation to finish the work on a rule that will provide for testing and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea among the nation’s truckers and rail workers.
Without federal certainty, people are dying. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled recently that obstructive sleep apnea was to blame for two rail accidents.
Under the current guidelines transportation workers face even more confusing, contradictory and costly for the workers. The Medical Review Board, which sets the standards and trains the certified medical examiners to conduct physicals, has no dental sleep medicine or other sleep professional among its members. We need a dental sleep medical specialist appointed to that board.
There is no one trained in the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea on the board and none of the certified medical examiners have experience in diagnosing the disease. In fact, drivers have said they often receive different results, depending upon the examiner. Then, drivers and railway workers face paying as much as $5,000 out-of-pocket for just one expensive treatment option that offers no guarantees of success.
Right now, as many as 18 million people are living undiagnosed. Those include railway operators and truck drivers, who are at higher risk because they lead more sedentary lives and maintain less regular sleep schedules.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a killer and if you know someone who snores, pay attention. Snoring is the body’s warning sign that the person is not getting sufficient oxygen and is at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. It is linked to so many life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease and even glaucoma. I know you would agree that anything we can do to improve the health and safety of the traveling public and transportation workers is beneficial to all.
I am asking that you call for S.1883 to be advanced in the SURFACE TRANSPORTATION AND MERCHANT MARINE INFRASTRUCTURE, SAFETY AND SECURITY subcommittee.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
(Did you know that phone calls from constituents work as staff must document all phone calls)
Phone Script in Support of Senate Bill –– S.1883, to require the Department of Transportation to finish the rule for obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment among transportation workers
Thank you for taking my call. My name is <Your Name> and I live in <Your City>.
I am one of your constituents.
Thank you for your time and consideration.